Omen, The (2006)

Reviewed By Todd LaPlace
Posted 07/09/06 10:27:07

"I hate that Damien kid."
1 stars (Total Crap)

A while ago, I called “House of Wax” the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life. Don’t worry, that designation isn’t going anywhere — “House of Wax” is still a catastrophe — but I do give it credit for at least going somewhere different with the story. The original “House of Wax,” while a cult classic, is pretty stiff. Ditto for the original “The Omen,” although the dumbfounding appearance by slumming star Gregory Peck at least made it mildly interesting. The 2006 “The Omen” doesn’t just borrow the concept; it steals the whole script. It’s just too bad Peck is gone, because that’s the only way to save this wreck.

To quote one of my fellow theater-mates, “Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!” He may have meant the interjections as a compliment — they each accompanied an obviously foreshadowed cheap scare that he seemed to enjoy — but I have my doubts. I will admit that my thoughts were also often “Oh…shit!”: “Oh, come on! They can’t honestly expect us to swallow this shit!”

The new version of “The Omen” — or as my ticket stub calls it, “The Omen 666” — is pretty much more a disaster for us than for the characters, where a selection of contemporary events (the World Trade Center attack, the hurricanes, the Challenger explosion, Clay Aiken) point to the rise of the coming apocalypse and the rebirth of the antichrist. So what does it take to out-evil the end of humanity (and the singer of “Invisible”)? I imagine it all has something to do with selling us a movie solely based on a gimmick (a release date of 6/6/06 — how evil!) rather than a story.

Not that the story needs much of a sale, because it already did millions of dollars in business and built a cult following…back in 1976. The remake so closely resembles the original that the credited screenwriter on the 2006 “The Omen” is David Seltzer, the writer of the original, despite having not touched the script in three decades. The surface dusting of contemporary updates aside, “The Omen” is “The Omen”; sequence for sequence, virtually word for word. In case you’re one of the few that hasn’t seen the original — which is considerably more cult and concept than quality — this might actually be mildly interesting, but somehow I still doubt it. We all already know Damian is the son of Satan, that lots of people will die and that the original had three sequels (how hard is it to off a 5 year old?). Poke me when something inventive comes along.

Robert and Katherine Thorn (a very intense Liev Schreiber and a very bored Julia Stiles), the new U.S. ambassador to Great Britain and his depressed, doormat wife, are about to become parents in a ramshackle, über-creepy Italian hospital when Robert is told his newborn son died at birth. Luckily, a jackal of a woman also gave birth to a boy at the same time, but she also died during the birth. And since we’ve got a family without a son and son without a family, naturally they should happily live the Brady Bunch-blended family lifestyle, even though Robert decides not to tell his wife that her son isn’t hers. So nice to see family values portrayed so accurately on the silver screen.

Five years later and now living in London, the family is living the high life as political celebrities. They live in an overly-ornate, gigantic old mansion, which is conveniently decorated in reds and the number 6. Symbolism isn’t exactly the right word, as the obvious decorating scheme is excessively distracting (I mean, what hard-to-kill five-year-old boy sleeps on red satin sheets?). In fact, the only effective set piece is Damien’s nanny Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow), whose high creep-factor allows her to steal every scene, even though she does little more than smile and provide some useless trivia (she had some trouble with her own demon baby in the ‘60s, in case you’re confused).

I know we’re meant to be frightened by Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) and his sinister innocence, mostly because director John Moore (the man to chastise for “Behind Enemy Lines”) never shuts off the background music. I’m pretty sure the constant drone is designed to drown out the stupidity because with the exception of a few scant moments of excitement (usually centered on an elaborate death) this is a gabfest between the world’s most dull parents. Even the religious subplot, mostly focused around wackjobs Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite) and his mentor Bugenhagen (Michael Gambon), isn’t interesting enough to merit more than this passing mention. This is opportunistic filmmaking of the highest order, where the most (and only) interesting thing about the plot is the release date. The rest is rubbish.

If monkeys can spot the antichrist just by looking at him — a bunch of gorillas go crazy and start smashing the glass — don’t you think they could have warned the filmmakers they were about to send out this shit? “Oh shit” is right. Oh shit. Get me away from this tripe right now.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.